|Lady Panthers back in winning form|
|Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor|
Feb. 20, 2004 -- JOHNTOWN -- When the North Hopkins Lady Panthers didn't play their best in a warm-up loss to Chisum last week, head coach Tim Menke hoped they got it out of their system.
The Lady Panthers looked as good as ever Tuesday night in routing Avery, 72-39, in the Class 1A, Division I playoff opener at Rivercrest High School.
North Hopkins roared to a 23-0 lead before Avery could manage a bucket, and allowed the Lady Bulldogs a total of just 15 points in the opening three periods.
Avery, the 20-1A runner-up, didn't match up well with the eighth-ranked Lady Panthers, 19-1A champion, who improved to 32-3. But, they especially didn't have an answer for 5-10 sophomore post Katy Williams, who scored 19 points on 8-of-10 shooting and scored the first nine points of the game.
Williams also grabbed seven rebounds, all in the first half, as the Lady Panthers held a 47-12 lead at the break.
Williams got going with help from Mary Casey who dished off assists for three of her buckets. The NH defense, meanwhile, didn't allow Avery to score until Jordan Carrell dropped in a 10-foot jump shot with 60 seconds remaining in the first period.
On their opening 15 possessions of the game, Avery was held to 0-of-6 shooting with no offensive rebounds and nine turnovers. Leading the defensive charge was Lindsey Horne, Casey, and Hope Harber with three steals apiece.
Offensively, junior Sara Weir scored a game-high 21 points, including back-to-back 3-pointers in the second period, to go along with four assists. Freshman Ebbonye Johnson added eight points, Horne seven and Hope Harber six. Harber's younger sister, Chancey, led the squad in assists with five.
The Lady Panthers led 58-15 after three periods before Avery scored 23 points in the final quarter. They Lady Bulldogs were led in scoring by Shanthanie Williams with 12 points, eight of them coming in the fourth quarter.
The Lady Panthers now face their toughest test of the postseason when they match-up with No. 5 Muenster at 7 p.m. Friday at Howe High School in the area round. Muenster defeated Bland, 49-21, in bi-district.
The winner will advance to take on the Douglass-Martinsville winner next week in the regional semifinals.